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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 44

Chapter VI. — Mr. Shantz on Manitoba.*

page 46

Chapter VI.

Mr. Shantz on Manitoba.*

Best Time to Go, and What Capital to Commence With.

Mr. Jacob Y. Shantz, of Berlin, Ontario, who wrote in 1873, at the request of the Minister of Agriculture, a narrative of his visit with a Mennonite deputation, gives the following opinion as to the best time for the settler to go to Manitoba, and the amount of capital on which he may begin.

The Best Time For The Settler to Go.

The settler should, if possible, be on his land by the 1st of Juno, when he would be in time to plant a patch of potatoes which will grow in an ordinary season when ploughed under the prairie sod. The ploughing for the next spring's crop should be done in June or July, when the sap is in the roots of the grass; being turned over at this season of the year it will dry up and the sod will rot, so that the ground will be in proper order for receiving and growing crops in the following spring.

What Capital is Necessary with Which to Commence.

This is a question frequently asked—the answer depends entirely upon surrounding circumstances. A young man without family, willing to work and save, would secure himself a home in a few years, provided he had only ten dollars to pay the fees for a free grant homestead claim. Work is to be had at high wages, and ho could work for other parties part of the time, and then hire help again in turn to assist in putting up a small homestead house. After page 47 that he could plough and fence in a few acres for a crop in the following spring. The next year he could earn enough to buy a yoke of oxen and other cattle, and thus, in a short time, he might become, comparatively, an independent farmer. A settler with a family ought to have provisions for one year (or the wherewithal to procure them).

Such a one, desiring to start comfortably, should have the following articles, or the means to purchase them, viz:
One yoke of oxen $120 00
One wagon 80 00
Plough and harrow 25 00
Chains, axes, shovels, etc 30 00
Stoves, beds, etc 60 00
House and stable, say. 150 00
Total $465 00

A person having $800 or 81,000 can, if he wishes to carry on farming on a large scale, purchase another quarter section in addition to his free grant, when we will have a farm of three hundred and twenty acres of land for cultivation, and in addition can cut alt the hay he wants in the marshes, if he thinks it desirable.

In conclusion, I would remark that a poor man can adopt the mode of farming on a small scale for the commencement, as practised by the half-breeds. They have carts made of two wheels and a straight axle, with two poles fastened on the axle to form shafts, and a rack or box thereon. To a cart so made is hitched one ox. The cart costs about ten dollars, and the ox and harness $50 to $60. With such a vehicle a man can do all the teaming that is required on a small farm—and after the first ploughing one ox oan plough all that is required.

I strongly recommend Manitoba as a home for German emigrants, and as they can obtain large grants of land en bloc, they can form a settlement or settlements of their own, where they can preserve their language and customs, as in the Western States of America.

* In respect to work it should be borne in mind that while wages are high, the country is new, and the labour market therefore limited. Mechanics especially should take special information before they start. The Pacific Railway works will, of course, call for a good many men; and the progress of agricultural settlement will pare the way for many kinds of artisans.